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Sunday, 30 November 2003
bon anniversaire holly

fish cake

Today we (the parents, the godparents, the brother, Holly, and about 7 of her friends) celebrated her birthday at the Sea Life Centre in Brighton.  I drove two little devils through, and returned with two little angels (one of them being the same person).  The parents and brother made the above cake last night, and brought it with them. It was certainly aquarium weather in the South East of England today - cold and wet.  Then this afternoon, I went to a performance of the South East Surrey Arts Wind Orchestra, with Pinkie performing (excellently). Then this evening was the final� of bluemeanie’s school play, Caberet.  So a very proud day all round.

And I bought nothing today!  (Sorry to all those expecting birthday presents!). 

While on the subject of birthday’s: I missed Kirsten and Tamsin’s on 28th!  This was despite a reminder from their big sis’ and the birthday alarm on my mobile going off at midnight the night before! Well that was probably the cause, as the alarm should have gone off at 9am on 28th itself.  I had better check the upcoming birthdays, because it is not pleasant waking up at that time if you have just fallen asleep.

I came across this really strange story on the internet: “Indian fakir hasn’t eaten or drunk anything for several decades”.  No, it’s not National Enquirer, and it’s not Ananda Marga Publications but the BBC - and they say a hospital is monitoring him - he is 70 and in perfect health, and didn’t eat or drink anything in hospital for 10 days. Most people can only live a few days without liquids.  The story is here. If you look at the second photo of him, it looks like he hasn’t grown very much in 70 years (heh heh!).  Actually, the BBC is a mine of interesting information. For example, if you get past the initial disgust of this article and work your way to the end, you find out that “parasites make up the majority of species on earth”.

Another interesting site I found is Mr Picassohead where you can draw your own Picasso. Give it a go.  They will even email your artwork to you, but beware: I don’t advise this because I saw that the company that developed this “game” is involved in direct-to-consumer email campaigns and online marketing.  Spam no doubt.

Finally, I got to see what this site would look like if I had an Apple Mac.  Courtesy of iCapture.  Seems to work fine!

Posted by bigblue on 30/11/2003 at 12:52 AM
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Saturday, 29 November 2003
postcards from the wardrobe

wardrobe pictures

I took this photo of some postcards on pinkie’s wardrobe. What struck me was how much this nightcrawler of the right hand picture looks like Ross Gellar (actor David Schwimmer) of Friends from the left hand picture. nightcrawler is an X-Man, whose body is covered with tatoos/scars. He is apparently German and religious, although he is a mutant. My information comes from bluemeanie.

This week has flown - it is Friday already, and tomorrow is Holly’s birthday party. In fact this year has flown as it is nearly December. On Monday I heard my first supermarket Christmas Carol (in Auchan in Schweighouse, near to Haguenau).  And it was a Boney M one - so I could award myself double points.  Then I got home to chez Wolff and found my first Christmas card had arrived.  It was from someone who sent me an email, not very long ago, complaining that people are celebrating Christmas too early. She won’t mind that I threw the card in the bin then.

I have to start thinking about Christmas presents. I tend to leave it till the last minute, which ruins Christmas Eve as it introduces too much stress.  Perhaps I will find some things at the Strasbourg Christmas Market, which opens this weekend.  Mewn has posted a photo of last minute preparations here. I am going to see the market for the first time on Tuesday after work - meeting up wtih an ex-colleague for gluwein and a promonade, then perhaps a restaurant somewhere.

My favourite Christmas lights/decorations in Strasbourg are in rue des Hallebardes - Baccarat crystal apparently.  I will try to take a photo of them this year.  The French word hallebarde mean, in English, a halberd, a medieval weapon, as depicted here.

Posted by bigblue on 29/11/2003 at 12:08 AM
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Friday, 28 November 2003
la toscana (deux)

la toscana restaurant

This photo is from the inside of La Toscana restaurant in Haguenau. We went there again last night after badminton. Last week I showed you the outside of the restaurant here.  On entering the restaurant, you go down some stairs and find yourself in a kind of cellar with tables and chairs. The ambiance is pretty good.

This evening we went out for drinks in Strasbourg with some visiting colleagues from Australia. It was very pleasant at Les Trois Brasseurs again. We sat upstairs (ground level) and could hear the students’ drinking songs rising from the basement/cellar below. Before going to Strasbourg I went back to chez Wolff for about an hour to toast Anna Sofia for her farewell. She had some friends over from work for a cocktail, to say goodbye. Mme Wolff even came down and joined in for a glass of champagne.  I left them at it, but when I returned from Strasbourg the guests had left and house was asleep.

Jewelsmar, even better than my tip yesterday: Ask Erik to make you the Mjuk Pepparkaka!

Anyway, I must get to bed: it’s a long day tomorrow. G’night.

Posted by bigblue on 28/11/2003 at 01:03 AM
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Thursday, 27 November 2003
la pont aux chats

la pont aux chats restaurant

Here is a picture I took last night of some of us coming out of the restaurant La Pont aux Chats. Regarding the comment on yesterday’s blog: Thank you Carles for not mentioning the olive story. I notice that you are doing a very good job lately of not mentioning that story hmmm  Actually it’s very funny how often that subject has come up this week, but it would be suicide to go into details.

This is the last wek of Anna-Sofia in Haguenau, she goes back to Reims to continue her studies next week.  Yesterday she sent us a recipe for a most delicious Swedish pain �pic� which is known as Mjuk Pepparkaka.  I have taken the liberty of sharing this recipe with you. Just click hereJewelsmar, I suggest that you make this as a surprise treat for Erik (perhaps for Thanksgiving?)  It is really simple.  If you need a translation, drop me a line (or even use babelfish).  Tomorrow night Anna Sofia has invited a bunch of people round to the house for drinks and to say au revoir.

Posted by bigblue on 27/11/2003 at 01:36 AM
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Wednesday, 26 November 2003
Break a leg!

Aussie whine

The above picture is doing the email rounds this week.  It looks like it might be an advertisement for a bottle-store.

I had hoped to take a picture of the solitary demonstrator (at the company across the road) with his La Cantine a Denise banner, but he wasn’t there at lunchtime today. Apparently he is Denise’s husband, and is protesting about how she lost her job. The story is a bit vague, but she used to work in the canteen and then she was transferred to another section (or visa versa). Anyway she was then made redundant. He wasn’t there, so I couldn’t ask him for more details. Ash says he hopes Denise got her job back.

Today I was thinking about bluemeanie, whose school play Caberet opened tonight. She seemed in a good space this morning, but I didn’t manage to speak to her this evening. I will hear tomorrow morning how the opening night went. 

This evening a group of 10 us went to a restaurant in Strasbourg with a colleague who is visiting from Beijing. It was one of the better restaurants we have been to, called La Pont aux Chats (Cat’s Bridge). The ambiance and decore are decidedly feline. The restaurant is in an old timbered building, and the atmosphere is Alsacian. The portions aren’t - they are small.

Posted by bigblue on 26/11/2003 at 12:35 AM
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Monday, 24 November 2003
Never mess with a wizard

St Mary's graveyard

The above photo shows what a church graveyard looks like in the middle of the night. I didn’t take it in the middle of the night, but when I fetched bluemeanie from choir practice one evening, at 8pm.

Last week, I mentioned that I ordered the Two Towers extended DVD set. I will watch this before The Return of the King is released this December. As we all know, director Peter Jackson cut some bits out of Tolkien’s books (e.g. Tom Bombadil), and added some characters of his own. Well, the extended version has Denethor, who was missing from the theatrical version (seige of Gondor).

I also recently read that the actor Christopher Lee (Saruman in the movie) is complaining that he was cut from the third movie.  This is inexplicable, as Lee says.  If Saruman doesn’t appear in this movie, then does that mean that the end where the Hobbits rescue the shire is cut? Will we not have a Worm Tongue killing the fallen wizard? Tolkien’s final book returns to the Shire, and the hobbits, where the whole journey began.  As we have seen in the previous two films, director Peter Jackson has turned the story into a bit of an action flick.  I suspect that in the theatrical version of the final film he will continue with this theme and over-focus on Aragorn.  If so, we will have to wait for the next extended DVD set in order to view Tolkien’s ending.

At lunchtime (during our promonade around the car park) we noticed a solitary demonstrator across the road (outside the company opposite). He was holding a banner which read: La Cantine a Denise. I popped off for my camera, but when I returned he had gone. What are we to make of this?

Posted by bigblue on 24/11/2003 at 07:59 PM
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Sunday, 23 November 2003
Before study (Oxted)

Oxted High Street

I took the above picture a while back in the Oxted High Street (Station Road East). It is a “before” study (in Christmas lights).

Today it’s a bon anniversaire to Alex who turns 14. I phoned him this afternoon to wish him a great birthday (I’ll see him next week to give the present, and wish him properly).

I have decided to award the prizes for the halloween caption competition and the winners are: bluemeanie and africanwmn. Surprise gifts are on their way to both of you.

Not much going on here. It’s wet. At least it is not too cold. According to the weather report it is 6 degrees in Oxted (but “feels like 4”). As they get their data from Biggin Hill airport, it is out a bit on the temperatures!  But notice how they predict rain every day now until Monday 1 December! bluemeanie is at rehersals the whole day today. The play is on this week. I will see it on Saturday evening, the finalé.

Posted by bigblue on 23/11/2003 at 04:56 PM
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Saturday, 22 November 2003
encore le brouillard


This past week the weather was mild but pretty miserable, except for Friday when we had some sun.  I took this picture one morning early in the week at chez Wolff. There seems to have been more fog than usual this year. There was also some in the evenings when we have driven into Strasbourg (for a meal/drinks one evening, and for the movie last night).

I have been toying around with giving a geographical location, at geourl. This is quite nifty, because you can find other websites, blogs, etc. nearby you. There is one drawback of course, as I share this site. So do I use bluemeanie and pinkie’s location, or do I use mine. And then I travel around a bit, so I don’t like the idea of giving one single location.  Well that is something to think about.

I found a site (with an associated mailing list) called World Wide Words. This is a brilliant site for me, because it gives lots of information about English words and phrases: what they mean, where they originated, how they have changed over time, and how they are currently used and misused.  An interesting review at this site (of the book Convict Words by Amanda Laugesen) indicates that some pretty old English words and expressions, that we now think of as English or American in origin, actually originated in Australia (for example, hard labour or chain gang).

I was also interested in words with a Malay origin, after finding out a few years ago that the Afrikaans word for banana, piesang, was the Malaysian word for this fruit too.

Posted by bigblue on 22/11/2003 at 12:44 AM
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